How I Launched My Podcast

PodcastThe wait is over! On Tuesday October 7, 2014, I launched my podcast “Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History.”

In this post you will discover more about the show, its launch, and what I hope the show will accomplish.


The Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

Each episode runs approximately 30-45 minutes and contains an interview with an historian who shares their unique insights into our early American past.

The podcast is intended for a non-specialist audience of history lovers who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

ben_franklins_worldBen Franklin's World explores the history of early America in its broadest sense. Events in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America affected the way North Americans lived, dressed, worshipped, conducted business, and exercised diplomacy. Therefore, some episodes of Ben Franklin’s World investigate non-North American peoples and events and the effect they had on the lives of early Americans.

Similarly, episodes span a broad period of time. I intend to help my listeners explore not only the 18th-century world that Benjamin Franklin lived in, but the 17th-century world that brought forth the period he lived in and the early-to-mid 19th-century world that Franklin and his generation influenced.


The Launch

Tuesday, October 7, marked the soft launch of the podcast.

The full release of Ben Franklin’s World will take place in December when I will list the show in iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud, the three major podcast subscription services.

I have chosen a two-step launch for four reasons:

First, I want to bring history to as many people as I possibly can, which means that I need to produce a podcast that releases quality content on a consistent basis.

By delaying the release of my podcast onto the major networks, I am giving myself time to develop a catalog of 8-10 episodes.

Soyuz_fg_22.07.2012Many podcast listeners want to know that a podcaster has invested themselves in their show before they will spend time listening to it. This makes sense given that most podcasters never publish more than 7 episodes. Potential listeners determine a podcaster's investment in their show by the number of episodes available for download and by whether the podcaster has released those episodes on a regular schedule.

By launching Ben Franklin’s World onto the major subscription networks with 8-10 episodes, I will help entice people to give my podcast a try. My 8-10 episode catalog will offer proof that I am looking toward the long term with my show and that I have released content on a consistent basis.

Second, I need time to practice and improve my skills as an interviewer.

Interviewing is a practiced skill just like writing, teaching, and public speaking.

Thus far I have conducted seven interviews and with each interview I ask better questions and grow more comfortable and confident behind the mic. This is important as it increases the quality of the show and helps me grow my audience.

Most podcast listeners will download and listen to your most recent episode before they go back and listen to your earlier episodes. Having 8-10 episodes will allow me to hook potential listeners on an episode that has benefitted from my practice.

Third, the delay gives me time to seek feedback from early listeners.

Early feedback will allow me to tweak and improve the podcast either before or not long after it reaches iTunes.

Fourth, I would like to make a run at the iTunes “New and Noteworthy” section.

The “New and Noteworthy” section provides selected podcasts with free, prominent advertising on the front page of iTunes. Placement in this category would bring Ben Franklin’s World to the attention of countless history lovers.

New podcasts have just 8 weeks to make this section. iTunes determines placement based on show ratings and reviews and number of downloads. The more episodes I release with, the more downloads I will receive as most podcast listeners will download not just one episode, but the entire catalog of a show. I hope to encourage early listeners to help promote the show by giving it a rating and a review.


Show Goals

action plan checkboxI have three goals for the Podcast:

1. Create a broader awareness about early American history.

Do you remember when David McCullough published [simpleazon-link asin="0743223136" locale="us"]John Adams[/simpleazon-link]?

For most of 2001, and into 2002, everyone talked about that book. Even people who seemed to have only a marginal interest in history, picked up and read McCullough’s tome.

I applied to grad school because I wanted to learn how I could get people to talk about history the way David McCullough did.

2. Connect non-specialist history lovers with academic and public historians.

I hope Ben Franklin’s World will create wide public awareness about the fantastic research, books, and interpretive programs of academic and public historians.

3. Lead me to my next big professional opportunity.

I would be disingenuous if I did not share my hope that this podcast will lead me to my "next big thing."

My blog has created so many opportunities for me to speak, write, consult, and meet like-minded historians and writers. I hope the podcast will too.

Perhaps Ben Franklin's World will even turn into a self-supporting enterprise or a profitable endeavor that will support my historical research. Stranger things have happened.


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*Video of Soyuz rocket launch courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor DryominG